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What Can I Do to Prevent Osteoporosis?

You can take action to maintain and improve your bone health at every stage of life. Adequate calcium intake, normal vitamin D levels (to help absorb calcium) and specific exercises are all important for healthy bones.

The need for calcium, vitamin D and exercise applies to people of all ages. For people with low bone density or osteoporosis they are all vitally important.

Find out more:

Information for men

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

Osteoporosis is diagnosed with a bone density scan (commonly known as a bone density test). It is a simple scan that measures the density of your bones usually at the hip and spine. You simply lie flat on a padded table, and the arm of the machine passes over your body. The scan takes approx 10-15 minutes. You remain clothed during the scan. Your GP will first assess your risk factors for osteoporosis before referring you for a test.

 

Who should have a bone density scan?

bone_density_scan

 Men and women over 50 with risk factors may need a bone check up with a bone density scan. If your bone density is low, you may be more likely to fracture a bone in future. Also some risk factors may require people under 50 to have a bone density scan, as determined by their doctor.

If you have low bone density or osteoporosis, you need to know as early as possible to manage your bone health. Finding out this information means you and your doctor can take action to keep your bones strong, low bone loss and reduce the risk fracture.

 

What will the result tell me?

result A bone density scan will determine if any action is needed to improve your bone health. The result will indicate if your bones are in the range of either

  • Normal
  • Low bone density (called Osteopenia) or
  • Osteoporosis

 

Medicare Rebates

Medicare rebates apply for many, but not all, people who will require a bone density scan.

Your doctor will advise if you are eligible for a Medicare rebate. Some private health funds provide a reimbursement (please check with your fund). Medicare Rebates for a bone density scan apply for people

  • previously diagnosed with osteoporosis
  • with one or more previous fractures from a minor incident
  • taking corticosteroids (common for asthma)
  • Women with early menopause
  • Men with low testosterone
  • with Coeliac Disease (or other malabsorption conditions), overactive thyroid or parathyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, liver or kidney disease
  • 70 years or over

For patients with risk factors, where rebates do not apply, a bone density scan can be paid for directly.

Bone density scans are widely available through medical imaging outlets, radiology centers, hospitals and some specialists.

Heel Ultra Sound

You may see advertisements for other types of bone tests in chemists and shopping centres, called Heel Ultrasounds.

This is not the recommended standard test to measure your bone strength and predict your risk of fracture.

Approved by Osteoporosis Australia Medical & Scientific Advisory Committee

Educational Resources

To prevent the early onset of osteoporosis children should adopt three healthy habits: consuming adequate levels of calcium in the diet; obtaining enough vitamin D (ideally from sunlight on the skin); and doing weight bearing exercise. These habits which prevent early onset osteoporosis in later life must start early, since bones reach their peak density in our early 20s.

Below are links to resources & websites for use by teachers to pass on this important message to students & parents.

If you would like further information about bone health please contact Arthritis & Osteoporosis ACT on 6288 4244 or email info@arthritisact.org.au.

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